The Insider marvels at the exploits of industry tough guys, but the mink-chasers of AXA take the prize for dangerous sports

The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters’ annual conference in Coventry had a few surprises in store. As well as the usual speeches and stalls, delegates were treated to a new version of the popular ITV game show: Who Wants to be a Liability Loss Adjuster? Given the current skills shortage, that’s a good question in itself. But although the delegates had already signed up to their chosen profession, some of them were flummoxed by the demands of the quiz. Tricky questions on the 1971 Animals Act and other puzzlers led to scratching of heads at one table, where a particularly desperate delegate asked yours truly to advise on some questions. Even the familiar 50/50 and Phone a Friend options could not help. Maybe next year the original title of the TV game show should be kept in order to give a little added incentive for brushing up on liability lore beforehand.

Aviva players bowled over by their old man

That John Kitson really is a popular man in the company. Aviva staff enjoyed a night of bowling last week, and as the beers flowed, the level of sentiment rose. One bleary-eyed staff member said: “John’s really going to be missed. He’s the sort of guy who, if he put his mind to it, he could do anything. If he writes a book, we’ll all buy it.” Well, John, even if you don’t become the next JK Rowling, you can be assured of a top-ten listing in Norwich’s most popular books.

Right choice to raise the bar

Let me introduce you to Mike Joseph. He’s one man you won’t be messing with. The managing director of Essex-based Right Choice Insurance Brokers has just lifted the world bench-press title for the 9th successive time. The 38-year-old powerhouse lifted 180kg (28.3 stone) – around two and a half times his body weight – to clinch the title for the people in the 82.5kg (12.9 stone) weight category, and in the process saw off 21 musclemen at Bradford University earlier this month. Joseph believes there’s no reason why he can’t make it into double figures next year. He said: “I feel as strong as ever and despite some long-term injuries I am now on the mend and looking forward to next year.” Joseph, I take my hat off to you and hope you can raise the bar even further next year.

An awfully big Arctic adventure

It seems that some people just can’t sit still and enjoy a good whiskey, like I can. Roddy Caxton-Spencer of Lloyd’s broker Besso is off to the North Pole as one of a party of 12 in March next year. He’s very secretive about the expedition and is keeping schtum about who is involved and why he is going, but I hear this is just one of the many expeditions and challenges he’s endured. Reports talk of him having run across the Sahara desert in the Marathon des Sables, run 100 miles across Tibet and sailed in the Round Britain & Ireland Challenge. Just thinking about it wears me out.

It’s not the big cheese you can smell

Something has been kicking up a stink at AXA, and it’s not even human. It all started when animal protesters went on the rampage last week in Ipswich. The butter-fingered rabble stupidly let a mink slip out of their clutches and it ran into AXA’s Ipswich office. Following an exhaustive search, the tiny terror was taken away by animal welfare offices, one of whom had their hands nipped. But the saga didn’t stop there. Unfortunately, the creature had run amok in one of the building’s key meeting rooms just a few hours before a visit from the company’s big cheeses, including chief executive Philippe Maso. Worried staff had to fumigate the meeting room with any fragrance they could get their hands on. It certainly did the trick and staff came out smelling like roses. IT